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Genre fiction lover:  Romance, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Urban Fantasy

Happily Even After - Lena Matthews 4.5 stars.

I loved this book. It was a very emotional and emotionally satisfying book about two people who are in love but messed up a bit. Not only a love story, this book is a bit of an homage to men who are great fathers.

Dean De Luca and his ex-wife Creigh have been miserably divorced for a year. Their marriage de-railed somehow, somewhere along the way, but even a year later Dean is still feeling a little deer-in-the-headlights about it. He didn't want the divorce, he is in love with his wife and he wants his family back.

For her part, Creigh, the one who initiated the divorce, has come to the conclusion that it was all a big mistake as well.

But the two are a bit trapped in a prison of their own making: A life of exchanging their two kids every other weekend while pasting fake smiles on their faces and making small talk.

Until Creigh realizes she is pregnant. By another man. Her one and only foray into dating and sex after the end of her marriage was a disappointment and ended in a mistake. She has to tell Dean so they can figure out a way to break the news to their two children.

Dean's response surprises her. At first he is incredibly hurt and jealous but he sees she needs help and he also sees it as the way to get his wife and family back.

I read this book in one sitting. From the opening scene where the two characters are on Dean's doorstep exchanging the kids for the weekend, the author immediately paints a picture of who these people are, what their life is like, and what they feel for each other (even if they are in denial about it). They are decent people and two great parents who let the pressures of their marriage overwhelm them.

I have to say I fell deeply in love with Dean. Both Creigh and Dean get a POV and his hits just the right tone of hurt, bitterness, and longing love laced with a little bit of bewilderment. He has no idea how he got where he is with Creigh, but he hates it. And he loves her. But, man, he steps up to the plate and brings it. Creigh is wary about his reentry into her life because she is worried that he sees her as a damsel in distress and needs to rescue her on his white charger. My response? Well, what's the problem? He loves the child she is having because it is hers and having been with her through two other pregnancies he knows exactly how she's feeling, how to treat her and what to bring her to eat. This man is a keeper!

Having Creigh be the one to push for the divorce and being the one to keep Dean at arms length could have had the effect of making her unsympathetic. But it did not simply because it is obvious that whatever it was that caused the rift in the marriage simply spiraled out of control. Creigh, like Dean, is still in love with her ex and simply doesn't know how to bridge the rift. And her pride won't let her even try. She could have been frustrating but she wasn't because even though she attempts to push Dean away, they are only half hearted pushes and she also realizes that this is an opportunity for a second chance.

So, yeah, Creigh and Dean were a great couple with loads of chemistry and a wonderful emotional connection. And as I said above Dean is an awesome father. And as an added bonus much of the tension and conflict is internal to them and their relationship.

However, the identity of the father of Creigh's child adds some extra drama and external tension that raises the stakes a bit in the book. I love how Dean and Creigh take to calling him 'The Donor' after Dean makes it clear that this is his child regardless of who fertilized the egg.

Overall the writing and plotting was excellent. I take half a star off because throughout this whole thing the great weakness of the book is why Creigh and Dean got divorced in the first place. The author never does, to my mind, a good job of explaining why Creigh wanted a divorce. One of Dean's bothers' posits that Creigh and Dean got married to young (they grew up together) and Dean was looking for an excuse to play around. But this is never borne out anywhere else in the story. Dean was always faithful and only had sex with other women after the divorce. And Creigh never once even alludes to Dean being unfaithful. Quite the contrary, it seems as if some of her issues come from him being a little too controlling? But even that is contradicted because at one point she complains that Dean never needed her as much as she needed him. But that little tid bit was about as much as we got regards the divorce. So for me, the reasons why these two people who were so incredibly in love and hot for each other got divorced was never quite explained well or even at all really.

But all in all this was an excellent love story with some smoking hot sex scenes.

I Highly recommend!